The scouts have turned in their reports, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are heading out to the BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers, for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. It is set for Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27. The function will be seven rounds over the two days.
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Leading off the evening are the Edmonton Oilers with the first selection to be followed by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 2 pick. Rounding out the first five are the Arizona Coyotes, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Let’s take time to recap where the Pens are this weekend. The Black and Gold will not have a pick in the first round as it was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 along with left wing Rob Klinkhammer in exchange for left wing David Perron. They will be without their third-round selection because it was part of the March 2014 trade that brought center Marcel Goc from the Panthers to Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the fourth-round pick was sent along with center Zach Sill to the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 for left wing Daniel Winnik. That leaves the Penguins with picks in the second, fifth, sixth, and the seventh rounds.
Pittsburgh’s Jim Rutherford has made it no secret that he would like to make a deal to get back into the first round. These six teams could be a trade partner as they have two selections in the first round. They are the Edmonton Oilers (No. 1 and 16), the Toronto Maple Leafs (No 4 and 24), the Winnipeg Jets (No. 17 and 25), the Arizona Coyotes (No. 3 and 30), and the Philadelphia Flyers (No. 7 and 29).
The questions that still remain are: do you make a package deal, maybe putting goaltender Matt Murray, who posted 12 shutouts and a 1.58 goals-against-average, with a defenseman like Scott Harrington to pry away one of those later picks? Or, do you involve someone on the main roster like Beau Bennett in a trade at this point?
If the Penguins stand pat, they could add to their offense by taking either right wing Christian Fischer from Team USA of the USHL or left wing Graham Knott from the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL with their pick in the second round.
Last year, the Penguins selected right wing Kasperi Kapanen from Kuopio, Finland with the 22nd pick overall of the first round. Here is how I see the first round going on Friday, barring any trade.
Next: Who are the players going in the first five picks?